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Wedding Music (2)


Peter Clark
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I don't know if it is considered impolite to refer to one's own posts but a thought ooccured to me: might it be useful were we to share some of the more successgful, if out-of-the-ordinary, requests we have had for weddings? (And possibly some of the more bizzare too!)

 

I mentioned John Marsh's Tubas on Parade previously, but I have found that a noble bridal march can be The Earl of Salisbury's Pavane (Byrd) played at a suitabble stately pace.

 

I once played for a wedding where the bride and father were both Star Trek fans. So am I, and by sheer chance I had recently bought a piano score of the theme tunes to the TV series and films which she happened to see on the piano in the choir room. She ended up by coming into the theme from Deep Space 9 and going out to Voyager!

 

Peter

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Guest Andrew Butler
I played the Dambusters' March once.

 

I was once asked, in writing, for "The chorale prelude by J S Bach - or if you can't play it, something that sounds like it will do"! :)

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I once played what I hope was a stately rendition of John Williams' theme from 'E.T.' for the happy couple's exit!

 

 

I must confess I hate Weddings . I use to enjoy playing for them at one time but lets be honest here. Its dosent matter what u play the Wedding party and guests behave disgusting in Church. Loud conversations Children roaming around the Church Babies bawling their heads off. And while all this is going on you are expected to play for see these god forsaken muppets. Personally, I play everything at double the speed so I can make my exit discreetly having wrestle with the Best Man to pay me .

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It’s difficult to know where to start (or should that be ‘Where do I begin).

 

· ‘Star Wars’ in, ‘Star Trek’ out. This one was also memorable on account of the fact that the couple were of no fixed abode and the wedding car, which was also their home, was a 1950s fire engine. Apologies to MM and any other petrol heads out there, but I’m afraid that I can’t be any more specific than this about the vehicle’s specification.

 

· ‘Blue Moon’ for two passionate Manchester City fans.

 

· ‘Lady in Red’. I have no idea why.

 

· ‘I don’t know how to love him’ from ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’. Do folk not read or listen to song lyrics beyond the first line???!!

 

· Wedding march from ‘The Sound of Music’. To the best of my knowledge, the bride was not an ex-nun, nor the groom a sea captain, but you never know. Maybe I should have checked the register.

 

· One of the oddest though has to be the ceremony where the congregational items were ‘One more step’ and ‘Sing Hosanna’ and the entry and exit pieces were recordings of chart hits (I can’t remember what). However, during the signing. I was called upon to accompany an excellent counter-tenor in ‘Where’er you walk’ The incongruity of it all seemed lost on everyone but the soloist and me.

 

· I also remember a rather nerve–racking occasion when I agreed to stand in for an indisposed colleague. I came home from work on the Friday to find copy of the Sydney Nicholson arrangement of ‘Let the bright seraphim’ on my doormat, along with a note from the soloist telling how much she was looking forward to working with me the following afternoon.

 

· On another occasion, the bride and groom brought along some friends to play during the signing. They turned out to be Liverpool Phil. violinists and their equally brilliant pianist colleague. They proceeded to give a heartrendingly beautiful performance of the slow mvt of the Bach Double Violin Concerto. Unfortunately, I was completely unable to enjoy this, as the only thought in my tiny head was that the next music that the congregation would hear would be my interpretation of Widor’s warhorse.

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Guest Andrew Butler

I may be being thick, or have missed something, but there are a couple of things I've been asked for at too short notice to even look for, let alone learn/rearrange or whatever, and I've never heard of: "Gabriel's Oboe" and "Highland Cathedral"............ Anyone enlighten me please? :)

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I remember Stanley Sackett, who used to be the organist of the Town church in St Helier, Jersey playing me his rendition of Trumpet Voluntary/waltzing Matilda, which he played for a Jersey/Australian wedding...all very tongue in cheek, but he got away with it. Try it yourselves, W M starts very nicely after 2 bars of the Tr Vol, and then you'll get the idea!

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Hmmm....

 

Usually I meet with couples about 2 months before the blessed day - I have a requirement that ALL music be chosen and in my hands at LEAST a month before the wedding. It's actually written into the contract that they sign, with the understanding that if that requirement is not met, _I_ get to choose the music.

 

There are perks to the fact that my lovely wife was (until recently) the wedding coordinator at the church (and carefully trained her replacement!)

 

~~~

 

I'm usually able to steer folks to good music, and often manage to get them to use some newer stuff - One of the "new" favorites lately has been David German's "Festive Trumpet Tune" which I often suggest for a recessional when couples want something different.

 

My friends Stephen Best and Rany Runyon have written some engaging new Trumpet tunes and processionals, but I've not used any of them for weddings yet...

 

Then there are the raft of TT written by David Johnson - lots of gems there.

 

I avoid the Widor - I simply don't have time to keep it under my fingers these days, since I'm sort of a jack-of-all-trades at this church job, and rarely get the practice I need.

 

~~~

 

One wag (getting married later in life for the first time) requested the "Hallelujah Chorus"....

I said that that piece was IMHO reserved for either Easter or the entrance to the church by Jesus himself,

and since the occasion was not easter (and he SURELY wasn't Jesus!) it was a no-go. :o

 

I have had some weird requests - folks wanting transcriptions of obscure classical stuff...

 

It's a wild-woolley world out there in wedding-land...

 

~~~

 

We had no organ at our wedding - my wife was set on being married in the parish she grew up in, and the organ was an aging analog Rodgers... I had no intention of having that for a memory on such a special occasion, so I hired a string quartet instead. I wrote a piece for her processional and arranged the JSB sinfonia to Cantata #29 for the strings.... it was INFINITELY better than any sound that might have issued from the appliance in the corner of the chancel :unsure:

 

Cheerio,

 

G

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I must confess I hate Weddings . I use to enjoy playing for them at one time but lets be honest here. Its dosent matter what u play the Wedding party and guests behave disgusting in Church. Loud conversations Children roaming around the Church Babies bawling their heads off. And while all this is going on you are expected to play for see these god forsaken muppets. Personally, I play everything at double the speed so I can make my exit discreetly having wrestle with the Best Man to pay me .

I just confess that I have a lot of sympathy with this view point, although, thankfully, fees are correctly handled so that the need for physical involvement with the best man is minimized. Its a fact of life that many older parish churches are located just over the road from the local hostelry and many of the wedding guests arrive in the former directly on exit from the latter. As Ronald has implied, behavioural standards have been in steady decline in recent years and the period before the service can be something of a trial. Increasingly the bad behaviour is now likely to resume during the signing of the registers.

 

Its a shame. I'm sure we all still get the odd couple (perhaps I should say "occasional couple") that you can talk to sensibly about hymn and incidental music choices, where the bride turns up on time and the relatives show a reasonable level of decorum, and its still a pleasure to contribute to their "happy day". But in my experience, the vast majority now think that they are hiring the church for the occasion, and that, as they're paying, they can behave as they see fit and have whatever they want.

 

And, by the way, I still think I should be fully entitled either to lock up the organ and go home if the bride hasn't processed in within 5 minutes of the scheduled start time, or to require a hefty deposit (at least the equal again of the basic fee) to be made in advance to be paid to me in these circumstances.

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But in my experience, the vast majority now think that they are hiring the church for the occasion, and that, as they're paying, they can behave as they see fit and have whatever they want.
That's if they (a) have any clue and (b ) care. I once had a couple pointed in my direction by the vicar to settle the music for their wedding. I asked them if they had anything in mind, upon which the groom said sarcastically, "You're the organist". :unsure:
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Guest delvin146

Personally speaking, I find weddings a complete pain in the backside. Ok I suppose we are to be paid for it.

 

If it's a wedding for someone in the church then fine we should perhaps pull the stops out a bit more than we might normally. The reality is that most just want a pretty venue and some fancy music. Personally speaking, I'd much rather prepare for services of those who attend on a regular basis. I find many wedding couples come up with the most inappropriate things that they've found on some cheap wedding compilation cd. Yes, Widor Toccata sounds lovely on the average "village" organ!

 

I try to adopt the policy of fairly standard fare unless there's a really good reason to deviate from it. It can also be quite entertaining to call the bride's mother "a right old cow". I find it adds a bit of spice to the special occasion. Funerals are the way forward in my view. Plenty of misery and thick manual 16' flues. Anyway, it's vile having to watch them snog when they get pronounced man and wife. Turns my stomach. It's disgusting!

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How I agree with Delvin. Yes, no problem with church members; it's the others.

 

I wouldn't object so much to the snogging, except - have you noticed how perfectly attractive brides always manage to make themselves look positively hideous on their wedding days? Anyway, I always think the vicar's invitation to kiss sounds a bit twee, considering the couple have probably been bonking the hell out of each other for at least the last few months. But then, I'm a cynic.

 

On the subject of fees, well I dunno. It may be OK if can rely on having two or three weddings every time you have to turn out (are there still such places?), but if you're at a less popular venue is the fee for one wedding appropriate compensation for having your whole Saturday b******d up?

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Guest delvin146
How I agree with Delvin. Yes, no problem with church members; it's the others.

 

I wouldn't object so much to the snogging, except - have you noticed how perfectly attractive brides always manage to make themselves look positively hideous on their wedding days? Anyway, I always think the vicar's invitation to kiss sounds a bit twee, considering the couple have probably been bonking the hell out of each other for at least the last few months. But then, I'm a cynic.

 

On the subject of fees, well I dunno. It may be OK if can rely on having two or three weddings every time you have to turn out (are there still such places?), but if you're at a less popular venue is the fee for one wedding appropriate compensation for having your whole Saturday b******d up?

 

I find the brides normally come staggering down the aisle, pie-eyed in their "pretty" make-up. The reality is she's been out on the lash the night before and has been round the block more times than the local dustman. She lifts the veil which reveals a 2' thick layer of foundation, and make-up that'd even put Pat Butcher to shame. 9/10 she's pregnant anyway and looking like an oversized hot air balloon and the previous offspring are dolled up as bridesmaids. I might be cynical, but I don't really care so long as I get the money. I find the majority of times it's all one big pantomime anyway as they'd probably not turn down a bit of extra-curricular.

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And, by the way, I still think I should be fully entitled either to lock up the organ and go home if the bride hasn't processed in within 5 minutes of the scheduled start time, or to require a hefty deposit (at least the equal again of the basic fee) to be made in advance to be paid to me in these circumstances.

 

Ah yes, late brides - there's another problem. My "record" is just over an hour late, but no apology forthcoming and certainly no financial compensation. The idea of a deposit is good in theory but I wonder how many happy couples (and indeed clergy) would agree to it? Incidentally there are stories of weddings being abandoned since the registrar could not hang about waiting for a late bride, being due at aniother wedding later that day.....

 

 

Ronald mentoned bad behaviour. Once on my way to the organ loft I saw a chap smoking in church! I asked him to go outside to puut his fag out and he tried to hand me the wretched thing so I could take it out for him!

 

Have youi noticed also how many people chew gum in church, or grin nervously at both weddings and funerals?

 

 

Best wishes

 

Peter

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Reading these posts reminds me how glad I am to be out of the whole wedding circus, although it brought back many memories.

 

In terms of unusual music, I have also played the Throne Room march from Star Wars for a couple of Star Wars fans, also the theme from Brideshead Revisited, on which Geoffrey Burgon wrote a set of organ variations in the '70s. Both pieces actually worked very well. (My former assistant regularly plays the Thunderbirds theme tune at Pentecost which always goes down a storm).

 

At the risk of losing all credibility, I rather like Gabriel's oboe. Yo Yo Ma has recorded a version of it on a CD of film music, whilst I have a recording in which it is re - arranged very beautifully as a baroque solo with a harpsichord continuo tinkling in the background. It is on my list of pieces which I must get round to transcribing one day.

 

I always found it hard to fix the right fee for weddings. Admittedly this is going back around 10 years now, but the fee at my church was a fixed £30. If I was away and had to book a deputy, my vicar refused to allow anyone else to charge more than £30, which ruled out quite a lot of visiting deputies who would have done a professional job.

 

If I was asked to travel away and play for a private booking, at that time I charged £60 including travel and music learning time.

 

I once charged £60 for a very spoiled princess in Sloane Square who went on to demand endless meetings, changing her mind about music every week and literally presented me with new music to be played during the service itself. When I got to the church on the day, my jaw dropped at the flowers which covered every inch of the church and had been flown in by the Italian flower designer, also flown in. I realised that the budget for the wedding must have been enormous and my fee for playing was ridiculous.

 

A friend of hers came up to me after the wedding and said she enjoyed the music so much she wanted to book me on the spot to do her wedding 6 months later. Admittedly her wedding required a full day out in Oxford, but without batting an eyelid I said my fee was £250. She accepted without hesitation, and turned out to be a delightful bride to work with.

 

I got married 7 years ago and at that time read that the average couple spent about £15,000 on a wedding. Think how much is spent on the cake, flowers, the dress, the car ... how much do we think the organist is worth, more to the point, how much do the couple think good music is worth ?

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(My former assistant regularly plays the Thunderbirds theme tune at Pentecost which always goes down a storm).

 

Well I'm always looking for novelty pieces - is it his own arrangement or is a score available? (I presume you mean the TV series rather than the movie?)

 

Peter

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Peter -

 

So far as I am aware, my assistant busks it from a piano score and, yes, it is the theme from the original TV series (by a chap called Grey I believe) rather than the theme from the more recent film, by Busted if I remember correctly.

 

I saw him the other day and he is threatening to play it at his lunchtime recital at the Temple later this year.

 

I regularly practice at Holy Trinity, Guildford and noticed that the Thunderbirds theme was also noted in their voluntary book for last week.

 

My assistant - now in charge of music at Tooting - is very talented and a brilliant improviser. Our vicar, now the Bishop of Taunton, was a passionate West Ham fan and on his last Sunday my assistant, played the Widor Toccata - except that the Big Tune when it came in wasn't the familiar dropping octaves but 'I'm for ever blowing bubbles'. It was incredibly effective.

 

If you want to contact me off line, I will happily put you in touch with him. I know that he will be delighted to discuss Thunderbirds with you to his heart's content.

 

M

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My most bizarre request for wedding music came from a couple in their seventy's. Both having lost their respective spouses. The bride given away by her son came down the aisle to," April love is for the very YOUNG". during the singing of the registar I had to play would you believe," Hello young lovers", from The King and I.

Weirdest request for a funeral was the theme from "Match of the Day" for a keen Manchester United supporter.

 

J.S.

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